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Navigating the digital transformation: Building a future-ready workforce in retail 

At the heart of this transformation is your workforce – are they equipped with the skills and mindset to thrive in this transformation? 

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Navigating the digital transformation: Building a future-ready workforce in retail 

Hyper-personalised customer experiences followed by new tech innovations are forcing retailers to adapt or risk getting left behind. From in-store events to immersive virtual reality, the retail digital transformation is here.

At the heart of this transformation is your workforce – are they equipped with the skills and mindset to thrive in this transformation?

This article explores what digital transformation means for both retail customers and employees, outlining the tools and strategies retail leaders can utilise to empower their workforce to thrive ultimately delivering a great customer experience.

Kroger’s CIO share their digital transformation at the NRF 2024

During NRF National Retail Federation's Big Show 2024, Yael Cosset - Chief Information Officer at Kroger joined Sucharita Kodali - vice president at Forrester Research to discuss Kroger’s digital transformation and its impact on customers and employees.  

"We continue to invest in our digital transformation journey by enhancing our customer and associate experiences, recognising that both are equally impactful to gaining loyalty and earning our customer's next trip. Our aim is to be the fresh food destination by providing customers with an experience that gives them exactly what they want no matter how they shop and use our digital capabilities to support associates, making their jobs easier and enabling them to spend more time doing what they are best at — interacting with customers." – said Yael Cosset.  

Cosset also highlighted how in-store mobile technology has empowered their employees by providing customised learning paths to ensure they learn new skills quickly. The technology also helps streamline task management to free up time for customer interaction.

Similar to their customer focus, Kroger measures the success of employee-facing technology through a Net Promoter Score. This allows them to continuously refine the tools and maximize the positive impact of digital transformation on their workforce.

The customer-facing digital transformation in retail

Customers expect engaging experiences that make shopping memorable and interactive. This could include anything from in-store events and workshops to immersive AR/VR experiences that allow them to virtually explore product features. They expect retailers to provide a hyper-personalised experience at every touch-point.

The lines between online and offline shopping are blurring. With livestream shopping events and influencer marketing driving a lot of online sales, the role of physical stores is becoming more experience-focused, serving as hubs for customer service, click-and-collect options, product returns, and especially community engagement.

But with all these new trends coming into play, is your workforce prepared to deal with this transformation and provide an excellent and hyper-personalised customer experience? Let’s explore what the digital transformation means to your workforce 👇

The employee-facing digital transformation in retail

The employee-facing digital transformation isn't just about flashy gadgets; it's about equipping your workforce with the skills and tools they need to thrive and exceed customer expectations:

1. Personalised Learning & Upskilling:
Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all training manuals. Today's retail employees wear many hats – product experts, customer service stars, and omnichannel navigators.  Invest in learning platforms that tailor training modules to individual needs.  A new employee might require basics on inventory management, while a seasoned team member could delve deeper into personalised product recommendations.

2. Employee mobile technology - The right information at the right time:
Imagine employees having a virtual assistant in their pocket.  AI-powered mobile technology in stores can be a game-changer. These tools can provide the right information at the right time so employees can make the right decision and provide the excellent service customers expect.  

3. Unleashing the power of VR/XR training:
While mobile technology empowers employees on the shop floor, VR/XR training can take upskilling to a whole new level. Imagine employees practising complex tasks like operating a cash register or navigating complex product returns in a safe, virtual environment.  VR/XR can also simulate challenging customer interactions, allowing associates to practice de-escalation techniques and hone their communication skills in a realistic setting.  VR/XR immersive training fosters confidence and equips associates to handle real-world situations with expertise.

4. Don’t forget your retail managers:
They are the bridge between your digital transformation strategy and execution.  They bring vision, inspiration and direction to their teams. Equipping them with the skills to effectively utilise new technologies and lead their teams through the change process is crucial.  

Training programmes for managers can focus on techniques to empower employees to embrace innovation with a growth mindset and navigate challenging times with confidence. By supporting managers, you empower them to guide their teams towards a digitalised future focused on hyper-personalised customer experiences.

Empowered and well-equipped employees are more likely to be engaged, productive, and deliver exceptional customer service that translates to loyalty and growth for your business. Invest in the future! Invest in your people!

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